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Making of a Teenage Service ClassPoverty and Mobility in an American City$
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Ranita Ray

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292055

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292055.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

The Making of a Teenage Service Class

The Making of a Teenage Service Class

(p.140) 6 The Making of a Teenage Service Class
Making of a Teenage Service Class

Ranita Ray

University of California Press

This chapter describes the complex and vacillating trajectory between higher education and low-wage work that defines the coming-of-age experiences of marginalized youth. Open access to certain institutions of higher education allow youth to postpone degrees indefinitely while claiming to be invested in college through isolated community college classes. This also reinforces the belief that social mobility through higher education is feasible. At the same time, emotional labor involved in the performance of low-wage service work opens up opportunities for autonomy and creativity as it generates more nuanced understandings of expertise and skills. Youth are able to creatively link the wide array of skills they deploy to satisfy their customers to a larger skillset they imagine they are developing through their isolated college classes. The big companies youth work for also convey the idea that workers at the bottom are part of the industry and can climb up the ladder to white-collar jobs through hard work and training. In the end, marginalized youth are channeled into the disposable labor force as they continue to work multiple part-time jobs at low wages while participating in higher education through isolated community college classes.

Keywords:   service work, disposable labor force, open access institutions, emotional labor, higher education, community college

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